Cell Phone Etiquette: 5 Things to Teach Your Teen

Be it for work or play, many of us rely heavily on our cell phones. It sends us reminders, helps us keep in contact with people, holds maps, lists and even entertainment. If your teen uses a phone, it’s important to help them develop appropriate behaviors to manage their screen time.

It would appear that cell phones are invading our everyday lives. Everyone has one—teens included. So how do you as a parent teach your teen appropriate phone manners and etiquette around proper cell use? Here are a few things to start with.

1. Be Mindful of Your Company

Encourage your teen to avoid taking phone calls or texting when they’re in the company of others. This lesson can start at home by not allowing phones at the dinner table or during family times. Encourage them instead to engage in face to face conversations and remind them that text messages can wait. Keep in mind that this might be a hard habit to break, especially if your teen’s friends don’t follow these rules themselves.

2. Be Courteous With Photos

We’ve all had bad photos or photos that we wished somebody else wouldn’t see taken of us. While this may have been easier to control when pictures were on film cameras and printed, with digital and social media, photos can spread like wildfire. Teach your teen that it’s courteous to always ask permission before taking and posting photos of someone else.

3. Don’t Forget Verbal Communication

Texting, online messaging and emailing are all unpredictable forms of communication because tone can be misinterpreted. It’s also much easier to say something over text when you aren’t worried about dealing with the consequences of a person’s reaction. This doesn’t mean that your words won’t come back to haunt you, however, so it’s extremely important to teach your teen to only send messages over text that they would be willing to say to a person face to face.

4. Respect Others’ Space

Have you ever had someone sit next to you on the bus and very loudly answer a phone call? Even worse, about a private and personal matter? It’s best for your teen’s privacy and for the comfort of those around them to lower their voice when they are using their phone in public or to step into a quieter, more private space.

5. Don’t Text and Drive

This is not simply a matter of etiquette; avoiding texting and driving is an important matter of safety for your teen and those on the road around them. This form of distracted driving is not only illegal in some places, but can be extremely dangerous.